Turnworth Down Education, Woodland Management and Grazing Project

Grazing project to manage wood pasture and high-quality grassland at Turnworth and to deliver bespoke educational experiences to new audiences.


Turnworth is a National Trust owned site containing wood pasture with chalk and neutral grasslands in North Dorset, near Blandford. Cattle grazing is essential here to maintain grassland diversity, control scrub regeneration, and infill within grassland, glades, and rides. Grazing also provides dung for invertebrates and the dependent bat population. Turnworth is a key feeding site for the breeding colony of Greater Horseshoe Bats based at Bryanston. The grazier wanted to make sure they could control grazing at this site to an even higher standard by creating a new cattle handling facility in the autumn of 2021 and by using new collars to track the stock, which can easily be lost on such a large site. A woodland management plan and felling licences were already in place at the site but had not been delivered. The applicant, the tenant for the site, and his wife were already set up to deliver educational site and outreach programmes at this site and others that they manage. They wanted to expand these opportunities to a wider range of people who would be able to learn about and enjoy the ‘Food, farming and environment’ of their local protected landscape.

  • Farming in Protected Landscapes Grant awarded: £12,842
  • Other sources of funding: £390 farmer contribution

The objective of this project was to ensure optimal grazing and management of wood pasture and high-quality grassland at Turnworth and to deliver bespoke educational experiences to new audiences. This multi-element project addressed all four FiPL themes; Climate, Nature & Place through the woodland and grassland management, and People via the educational visits.

A new cattle corral was built, and key woodland work specified in the Woodland Management Plan delivered. Ten cattle collars were purchased to be used from spring 2022.

Fifteen educational events were delivered covering diverse topics including Anglo-Saxon & Iron-Age Farming and Textiles, Cattle Behaviour and herd management on conservation sites, Winter on the Farm, Where our food comes from, Introduction to the New Purbeck Super Nature Reserve, Turnworth Down – a tour of the habitats, archaeology and discussion on cattle management, Life Cycles. Groups included: 2 pre-schools, 9 first school groups, National Trust group, National Trust staff and volunteers, Studland Gardening Association, Dorset Wildlife Trust staff and trainees.

Cattle Coral at Turnworth (c) Emma Russell

The woodland work delivered within this project contributes to maintaining the character of the wood pasture and increased its habitat value by felling young trees that are encroaching on rides and glades, as well as those that threaten veteran holly trees.

The new handling facility enables cattle to be brought to site to ensure adequate grazing of the species rich grassland on this relatively remote site. This, with the new collars, means that the site remains viable for the grazier to manage.

The educational experiences were in such great demand, and received excellent feedback. The applicant has subsequently applied for and been awarded a FiPL grant for a follow up programme delivering 40 more sessions in 22/23 at this site and others, including the newly designated Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve.

By having the woodland management plan in place before the FiPL application, which contained species data, for example dormice records, the grant could be agreed very quickly and works carried out. Simple evaluation forms completed by all educational session participants helped shape future sessions.

“This was an excellent experience to add to our curriculum”

- Local first school teacher who participated in an educational visit.
Turnworth Down (c) Emma Russell